Tennis stars will not be receiving ranking points from the ATP and the WTA at this year’s Wimbledon following the All England Lawn Tennis Association’s decision to ban Russia and Belarus players from the prestigious grass-court Grand Slam, the governing body of men and women’s professional tennis said in a statement.
The decision by ATP and the WTA will reduce Wimbledon, starting June 27, to an exhibition event. Notably, the tennis governing bodies allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete under neutral flags in other tournaments earlier this year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the Wimbledon organisers said last month that the Russian and the Belarusian players would not be allowed to compete.
The AELTC decision to impose the suspension on Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s championships due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is the first time players have been excluded on grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War Two era when German and Japanese players were banned, according to Reuters,
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour. The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system,” the ATP said in a statement.
The ITF also said it will not grant ranking points to junior and wheelchair Wimbledon tournament this year.
However, the organisers of Wimbledon said that the ban was the only viable option under British government guidance – a stance that the ATP rejected.
“We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance. However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration,” the ATP added.
The AELTC on Friday said they were considering their options and were in discussions with their Grand Slam colleagues.
“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime,” the AELTC said in a statement.
“We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships.
“We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.”
VIOLATION OF FUNDAMENTALS
WTA chief Steve Simon said the tour believes athletes participating in an individual sport “should not be penalised or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.”
“The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events violate that fundamental principle,” Simon said.
“As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not honour its obligation to use the WTA Rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.”